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Honesty is the best — and most difficult — policy

May 21, 2011

In a relationship, both sides are faced with a decision: Do I, or do I not, divulge my true feelings?

The answer seems, on it’s face, to be easy. “Well, duh, I’m gonna be honest,” we all think. “Why lie? That’s bad. And last time I checked, God made a freakin’ commandment against it, so it’s a no-brainer.”


But answering that question is much more difficult than it seems. In fact — it’s one of the most agonizing parts of being in a relationship.

Why? Because honesty puts people in the real world. And usually, we don’t want to be in that world. Sometimes, it’s less fun. We all want to imagine the world with sunshine and butterflies and holding hands and unconditional love at all times — but in the real world, people get things like broken hearts and parking tickets. And who wants to be a part of that?

At the beginning of a relationship, we all experience that honeymoon period where everything is wonderful and neither side can do any wrong — ever. Everything is funny, everything is fascinating, everything is, well, perfect. But as time wears on, we face difficulties, we have thoughts, we find problems, and we are faced with a choice: Do we bring any of those issues up?

Why is it even a question, you might ask? Well, for one, if our partner’s response to our honesty isn’t what we’re looking for, then we’re subject to the most violent, awful pain there is — falling face-first onto the concrete floor of the real world. The searing, bleeding reality we find is that, no, everything isn’t perfect, the real world is an ugly place and, yes, you parked for 2 and a half hours in a 2 hour zone. The state of Illinois would now like to claim $75 and all your dignity. Welcome to the real world. Population: EVERYBODY.

For me, honesty sucks. In my experience, I am always brutally honest, but in the most paralyzingly awkward and uncomfortable way. Every time I make an attempt at honesty, no matter how eloquent I may sound in my mind before the showdown, once I begin my speech, instead of the articulate, moving deliverance I imagine beforehand, all I end up hearing is a stuttering, halting, circular slur that hardly makes sense and leaves both sides more confused than they started. And why? Because I always get up the nerve to say something, but once I begin to say it, I wimp out at the important parts — leaving my argument unfinished and ultimately incomprehensible.

And why? Well, THAT answer is simple. It’s because, as I’m trying to be honest, I’m conflicted with even more questions: What if I share too much? What if I’m too honest? What if the other person isn’t ready for my honesty? What if — horror or horrors — that person doesn’t feel the same way?

In a desperate attempt to avoid the harshness of reality, we sometimes hide our true emotions in the effort to keep the other side happy and still “smitten” with us for as long as possible.

But even then, do we really win?

If we suppress our emotions and true thoughts, all we feel is restless, angered and, in the worst cases, passive-aggressive. (Of all things to be in a relationship, the worst is passive-aggressive — which just happens to be my forté when I’m not being unbearably awkward … but that is a different blog post altogether.)

What choice should we make? Share our feelings and risk humiliation and an unwanted dose of reality? Or hide our feelings in the vain hope that they’ll pass and the fairy tale will live on?

Is there even a right answer?

I’ll be honest — I think there is — but the correctness of the answer is entirely subjective, and depends upon the character of the decision maker. In my opinion, I’d rather live in the real world than the dream world, no matter how cold, ugly or Justin Bieber-filled that real world may be. But for others, striving for the ideal, no matter how far away it may seem, might be the preferable route.

Either way, I still think honestly is the best policy. Nothing great was every achieved without sacrifice — and relationships are all about testing your boundaries, putting yourself out there and going out on a limb. And if we live life strictly within our comfort zone, well, after a while, it’ll get pretty uncomfortable, won’t it?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbra Zuanich-Friedman permalink
    May 24, 2011 11:49 am

    E! We gottta talk! Honesty in one thing. One very large wonderful trait. Practicing it in the throes of a new relationship takes on a whole new meaning, and philosophy! We gotta talk! I dated forever. I learned so much. Let me teach you a little bit about keeping the mouth zipped in the early stages of getting to know someone. Your ex-pat neighbor, Barbra. Call me. Or see me when you have a coupla days at home!

  2. May 25, 2011 10:13 am

    uh-oh – it looks like Barbara and I are gonna have to slug it out 😉

    I say be honest – what’s the worst that can happen – you find out you aren’t all that compatible… better now than a year from now.

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